Text size

Seven 14-year-old girls who were arrested last month at the unauthorized West Bank settlement outpost of Givat Haor near Beit El, were put in the Neveh Tirza jail for three weeks due to their refusal to identify themselves or recognize the authority of the court to rule on their case.

After they subjected the legal establishment to public humiliation, a "creative solution" - as defined by Dr. Yitzhak Kadmon, head of the Council for the Welfare of the Child - was found last week.

Jerusalem District Court judge Noam Sohlberg subsequently ruled that police were obliged to identify the girls, and not force the girls to identify themselves. Sohlberg decided that if police had not identified the minors within 48 hours, they would be released from custody.

On the basis of this decision, the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court freed four of the girls on Friday. The affair has not ended, though, and not only because another three girls still remain in custody. Their friends, incidentally, demonstrated on Saturday in front of the Neveh Tirza jail in Ramle.

The past three weeks have further exacerbated the recourse to isolation and feelings of alienation from the institutions of the state, which part of the National-Religious youth have felt ever since the evacuation of Gush Katif [in 2005], and all the more forcefully following the major clash over Amona, some two years ago.

It was enough to view a few days ago the dozens of girls, most students at religious girl's high schools in the West Bank's Benjamin region, who protested outside the Jerusalem Magistrates Court and sang with hoarse voices - almost unbelievably - the anthem of anti-Zionist Haredi sect Neturei Karta:

"In the rule of heretics we don't believe, and their constitution we don't acknowledge. In the way of the Torah we will go, in fire and in water. In the way of the Torah we will go sanctify the name of the heavens."

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, who is attune to the current spirit of the youth, wrote an open letter to them in the Shabbat leaflet "Small World" on the Torah Portion "Bo."

He explained that "it is not the rift at Amona that we mourn, but the rift that still exists." He proposed again, as is his way, adhering to that "which unifies and joins us, which determines and is greater than that which separates and divides us," and to use "the reserves of strength in our Israeli unity."

Responses to this exhortation, and other similar ones from the "stately" stream in Religious Zionism, were not slow in coming. They reflect the spirit that the arrested minors wished to project to their surroundings.

Shiran Shabbatai, who was beaten by police at Amona, wrote to Rabbi Aviner in the pamphlet of rightist organization "Northern Headquarters" that:

"A whole worldview, 'the stately view,' which has an impressive record of achievement, is found today in a crisis while beneath it a new, more determined worldview is growing, which is under examination. This worldview is prior to crystallizing and stabilizing and still needs to prove itself," Shabbtai confessed, but made clear to Rabbi Aviner that: "We are in a new reality."

Irit Halevy, from the Noga College in the West Bank settlement of Kedumim, also describes a new reality which she calls "freedom."

"There is one thing that the religious youth wish to give up," she resolves, "the empathy, the desire to be loved, accepted. How do we say it here? 'To sanctify the name of G-d.'"

"We don't want to be slandered, spurned, alone. All these words are the absolute antithesis to the National-Religious character we have been educated about. This was made cynical use of at Gush Katif. There they simply outlawed all effective struggle," she added.

As opposed to this, Halevy writes: "At Amona there was a feeling of some kind of freedom. Like the nerd kid who is tired of the class bully... As one who lives in a generation where the regime is alienated from the basic truths of my life, I sense that the greatest challenge for us today is simply to agree to rush to be in a minority opinion, from the understanding that the silent majority is waiting for this minority to lead the state of Israel, and the redemption of Israel to a good path."

Halevy, who had stayed in one of the houses in Amona, added: "Whoever does not understand the vast depth of frustration over the struggle for Gush Katif, does not understand the spark in the eyes of the girl charred by the tire smoke and battered by the blows of police officers.